Leadership and Management
Why Leadership Style is Important
Leadership style refers to an approach taken by a particular leader. It might refer to a directive or commanding style or a participative or collaborative style. It might equally refer to a leader who has a visionary style or who is coaching-centered. There are many other style labels that we might add.
Some leaders are prone to use one general style in almost all situations. Other leaders “flex” their style to meet the particular needs of each situation encountered. In both cases however, it is important for the leaders to know what their main style preferences are so that they can evaluate the likely effectiveness of that style in a given set of circumstances (or know how far they may need to change their style in order to get a better result).
One very useful model of general style preferences, which can be applied to leadership, was developed by the psychologist Carl Jung in the early 1920’s (and enhanced by several psychologists in the years since). In his work, Jung identify that some of the key preference combinations – such as the Sensing (S)-Intuitive (N), Judging (J)-Perceiving (P), and Thinking (T)-Feeling (F) preferences (whether extroverted or introverted) would significantly influence the way people approach their work. Jung’s work eventually led to four combinations that are useful when we are thinking about leadership style and these are summarized in the table below.
|The Sensing Judgment Type
|The Sensing Perceiving Type (SP)||The Intuitive Thinking Type (NT)||The Intuitive Feeling Type (NF)|
|Leadership Style:||Traditionalist, stabilizer, consolidator
Has a sense of duty, responsibility, loyalty and industry
|Trouble-shooter, negotiator, fire-fighter
Seeks to act with cleverness seeking short cuts to save time or effort where possible
|Visionary, Architect, Systems builder
Seeks to add ingenuity and logic to ideas and actions
|Catalyst, spokes-person, energizer
Likes to persuade people about values and personal inspirations
|Tends to be noticed for:||Being hardworking, reliable and dependable||Being resourceful, risk taking and spontaneous||Being competent, expert and logical||Being open, authentic and inclusive|
This table suggests the following:
The “Sensing-Judging” combination (where the person prefers to inform themselves via tangible, concrete, “five-senses” approaches, and likes order, closure, schedules and decisiveness) suggests a “traditional” or “instructional” approach to work. A summary term for this style is “Safely persistent”.
The “Sensing-Perceiving” combination (where the person prefers to inform themselves via tangible, concrete, “five-senses” approaches, and likes options, flexibility, opportunity, and freedom to adapt) suggests a “troubleshooter” or “pragmatic” approach to work. A summary term for this style is “Resourceful pragmatism”.
The “Intuitive-Thinking” combination (where the person prefers to inform themselves via the abstract, big picture, conceptual “intangible” approach, and makes decisions based on argument, logic and objective criteria), suggests a “visionary” or “rational” approach to work. A summary term for this style is “Conceptually Flexible”.
The “Intuitive-Feeling” combination (where the person prefers to inform themselves via the abstract, big picture, conceptual “intangible” approach, and makes decisions based on values, beliefs and “what’s best for those involved” suggests a “catalyst” or “idealist” approach to work. A summary term for this style is “Optimistic collaboration”.
The qualities required to show leadership can be demonstrated by all types of people in many different ways and as we have seen with many differing styles. They can all be equally effective (or ineffective!) in performing a leadership role. However, to be successful, especially over the longer term, people need to understand their style of leadership and how this may impact on others. This can help us to minimize our blind spots, which might derail us in a particular situation.